Riding the Icefields Parkway was on our original list of roads to experience. It appears on several lists of the best motorcycling roads in North America (and soon to be included on mine, coming soon!), taking travellers between Jasper and Banff (Lake Louise) through the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Standing by an amazing river along the Icefields Parkway.
We stayed in a nice hotel in Canmore after riding the Golden Triangle over the previous couple of days, ate Elk burgers for dinner, made friends with what I think was a domestic bunny near the hotel and had a pretty lazy morning it has to be said. It was nice to relax a bit, but we couldn’t wait too long to head along one of the most famous roads in the world. First, we had an hour or so of the Trans Canada Highway, Highway 1, to get back up to Lake Louise. This mostly four lane dual carriageway goes right across the country, has a 90 or 100kph limit most of the time and is quite busy. But you know, needs must.
View from the Icefields Parkway.
The Icefields Parkway is the Highway 93 north towards Jasper. It goes through 100 glaciers, and was simply beautiful from the start. We took our time riding the 232km (144 miles), stopping several times to take in the view, take photographs, and make the most of the journey.
Walking down to Mistaya Canyon.
Can you see him?!
One place we stopped that stood out to me was Mistaya Canyon. We spotted a large but unassuming lay-by on our right as we headed north and stopped to see what was there. The signage eluded to something interesting, so we decided to walk the half mile down to the canyon to have a look. We were so glad we did, and not just because of the cute chipmunk we spotted watching us from his tree hole.
LincsGeek taking my photo!
The super fast flowing glacier water river had carved out a reasonably small canyon in comparison to some we’d already seen on this road trip, but it really was quite spectacular. There weren’t many people around and we could get right up to the water’s edge (with some careful stepping); we spent over an hour wandering up and down and taking time to watch and listen to the water race by.
I would say the place took my heart in some way, it was just one of those views and memories that we may have missed if we didn’t decide to stop in that particular lay-by in that moment. Despite all the wonderful things we saw on our Zartusacan adventure, it is here my mind goes to when I shut my eyes, and it’s one of my favourite photos of the trip.
Sat watching the water flow by.
The Icefields Parkway was truly a wonderful road to ride – or drive, I’m sure. The views as the road headed up were stunning (never forget to stop and look back to see where you have been, you might just miss out on the best views of the day), and all the way along we were treated to snow covered mountains, fast flowing rivers, milky white and turquoise blue lakes, and a lot more besides. You can easily spend a day making your way from south to north or north to south, as there are so many places to stop and explore; I’m sure that we missed as many as we saw. One of the country’s best motorcycling roads? We’ve not really seen that much of Canada, but yea, one of the best roads I’ve ever had the pleasure to travel along.
Looking back from where we came – the Icefields Parkway.
We checked into the Jasper House Bungalows, a holiday camp style lodge set by the river on the way into Jasper, for a couple of nights so we could head back down the Icefields Parkway the next day and see what it was like to step foot on a glacier. The lodges were quite nice actually, although the restaurant was a bit unorganised. The main pull was that we were right by the river – this would be the perfect base for some hiking. We went for a walk (to see if we could spot any bears fishing, of course…).
Mistaya Canyon, Icefields Parkway.